European Union (EU) Ambassador in Dhaka Rensje Teerink on Wednesday said the role of China and Russia is very important in finding a solution to Rohingya crisis but economic interest apparently made the ‘solution difficult’.
“Countries like China and Russia aren’t really ready to go step forward,” she said adding that it is always a question of the flow of money and whether the investment is flowing.
The newly appointed Ambassador also said Myanmar is an important part of larger Belt and Road initiative China is currently devising and put it into operation which might be a reason why many countries are not so outspoken even in the face of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses.
“So, it’s a very difficult question,” the EU envoy said laying importance of taking to China, Russia and India on board, and mentioned that it is very difficult part of the equation.
The Ambassador said it wants to see Myanmar's reply before taking any toughest measures like imposing economic embargo or other restrictive measures against the country.
“We’ve to first see what and how Myanmar is going to respond before using all these avenues. Let’s first see how they reply and in due course other measures can be taken,” Teerink said mentioning that economic embargo is the strongest measure they could take.
In general terms, she said they do not see any goodwill from Myanmar side so far to really come forward and respect their commitments. “Absolutely, there’s no progress.”
One of the commitments is to work with Bangladesh to take back their nationals from Bangladesh.
The new EU Ambassador was interacting with diplomatic correspondents at ‘DCAB talk’ in a city hotel.
On Monday, the EU and its member states decided to suspend invitations to the Commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces and other senior military officers and review all practical defence cooperation.
“It’s a symbolic measure but I think it’s an important one and a significant message to Myanmar,” Teerink said.
The EU confirmed the relevance of the current EU restrictive measures which consist of an embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression.
The decision was conveyed on Monday in the wake of the disproportionate use of force carried out by security forces.
The European Council may consider ‘additional measures’ if the situation does not improve, but also stands ready to respond accordingly to positive developments.
“We’ll have to follow the situation very closely in the coming weeks,” Teerink said.
The EU also intends to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming ASEM Foreign Ministerial Meeting to be held in Nay Pyi Taw on November 20-21 to engage, in the margins thereof, in a constructive dialogue with the government and will also continue to liaise with all Asian partners in this regard.
“This is a very important meeting and we look forward to it to convince Myanmar to do the right thing,” said Teerink.
She said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will arrive here on October 30 to see the Rohingya situation on the ground.
The EU will continue to address these vital issues and all the challenges linked to the process of democratic transition in the framework of its continuing engagement with the government of Myanmar and in all relevant international fora, notably the UN.
Ambassador Teerink also talked about EU’s interest to send election observation mission ahead of the next national election in Bangladesh.
She, however, said it depends when Bangladesh’s interest and the election observation mission will be deployed once Bangladesh sends invitation to that end.
The EU Ambassador submitted her letter of credence to President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban on Tuesday.
She joined the European Commission in 1995 as administrator for South Asia. In 2006, she was appointed Deputy Head of Unit for India, Nepal, Bhutan and Saarc.
DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary Pantho Rahman also spoke on the occasion.